The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has shown her disinterest in helping EU students studying in universities in Scotland by refusing to extend a student visa program from 3 years to 4 years for a no-deal Brexit.
Ian Blackford, who is the Westminster leader for the SNP took up the matter yesterday at the Prime Minister’s Questions along with other matters concerning Scottish institutions.
Sometime earlier this year, the Russell Group, a group representing the leading universities in the UK urged the British Home Secretary to cancel the plans to introduce a 3-year visa for students coming from the EU to the UK in case of a no-deal Brexit.
The group pointed out that the European Temporary Leave to Remain scheme — ELTR for short — has discriminatory policies against universities in Scotland. This according to them, would affect students coming from the EU in the future to study engineering or medicine courses in the Scottish universities since their programs last for more than 3 years.
According to the proposal, if the UK doesn’t conclude on a Brexit deal with Brussels, then the government of the UK will introduce a new category for temporary immigration for citizens of the EU who would be arriving post-Brexit.
At the moment, persons coming from the EU will have to stay for just 3 months in the UK before they’d be required to obtain the ELTR. This document will then allow them to live, study or work in the UK for 36 months. Their permitted duration of stay in the UK cannot be extended.
Asides this, it is not yet clear what visa options are there for the future or what the eligibility will be based on.
Blackford asked the Prime Minister to extend the duration of the ELTR to four years so as to tally with the length of a standard undergraduate program in Scottish universities.
The 3-year visas could be converted
The Prime Minister refused, arguing that the students do not have such a problematic situation as Blackford had painted it to be. She further suggested that the 3-year visas could be converted.
She added that the SNP invest more of its time in making the quality of education in Scotland better and less of it in indulging in obsessions about independence.
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